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Sergeant Michael Kunovich, a 25-year veteran of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office, died following an altercation with Vergilio Aguilar Mendez on the evening of May 19, according to the sheriff’s office. Kunovich reportedly attempted to pat down the suspect for weapons when Mendez attempted to flee and a six-minute struggle ensued. After the suspect was finally disarmed and detained, Kunovich collapsed and was later pronounced dead at the hospital, authorities said.
“Sergeant Michael Kunovich was killed in the line of duty by an illegal immigrant who took advantage of our open border. Our prayers go out to the Kunovich family and the entire [St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office] community during this time,” DeSantis said. “Joe Biden’s reckless immigration policies are deadly – it is no way to run a country.”
Sergeant Michael Kunovich was killed in the line of duty by an illegal immigrant who took advantage of our open border. Our prayers go out to the Kunovich family and the entire @SJSOPIO community during this time.
Joe Biden’s reckless immigration policies are deadly – it is no…
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 26, 2023
While resisting arrest and fighting on the ground for six minutes and 19 seconds, the suspect allegedly attempted to grab the sergeant’s taser. After being handcuffed, authorities said that Mendez “armed himself with a pocket knife,” but deputies forcefully removed the weapon.
Kunovich collapsed after the struggle, and St. Johns County Fire and Rescue and Flagler Health+ personnel performed life-saving measures on the deputy, but he died at the hospital. It remains unclear how exactly Kunovich died.
Mendez has been charged with resisting with violence and felony murder. The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said that Homeland Security Investigations was assisting in verifying the suspect’s identity and immigration status.
As the border crisis worsens under President Joe Biden’s leadership, Americans are becoming more concerned about the threat Biden’s border policy poses to the country’s safety. Earlier this month, a man who allegedly murdered two people and attempted to kill a third was arrested in California and identified as an illegal immigrant. In late February, Republican leaders targeted the Biden administration for the ongoing border crisis and the threats it poses to public safety, opening an investigation into the murder of a young autistic woman by an illegal immigrant in the MS-13 gang.
“Criminal aliens and gang members exploit the U.S. immigration system to harm Americans,” Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Tom McClintock (R-CA) wrote in letters to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The Biden Administration’s border and immigration policies only increase the likelihood that those criminal aliens will successfully enter and remain in the U.S.”